TIME: Caught on Tape
Thursday, September 18, 2003
By MICHAEL WARE
TIME has received a 27-minute-long video from
anti-U.S. resistance fighters, documenting an attack
on a U.S. position at an old Iraqi ammunition
facility. The tape was allegedly produced by
Mohammed's Second Army, one of the three groups who
claimed credit for the U.N. bombing. This particular
cell, the Anbar Branch, did not pull off that
bombing, but they claim to have some knowledge of
that attack. The video taped aired on ABC News on
Wednesday night and can be viewed at abcnews.com.
Shot the night of Sept. 6, the video shows an attack
on the ammunition storage point at Khaldiya, on the
outskirts of the Sunni-dominated town of Falljuah,
just west of Baghdad. The ammo dump is about 1.25
miles long and, according to a U.S. military
engineer, contains so much ammunition it would take
weapons disposal experts a year to blow it all up.
Since the official end of hostilities in May,
anti-U.S. forces have been raiding the facility,
taking mines, anti-tank rounds and other weapons .
The unit currently based there, from the 3rd Armored
Cavalry Regiment's 2nd Squadron, is keeping tanks and
armored vehicles on the ridge at all hours to guard
against more theft. "We shoot anything that moves up
here," says one U.S. soldier.
Still, U.S. troops are often tested, and this video
portrays one such assault. Shot on nightvision
lenses, the video first shows a resistance commander
drawing a map in the dirt with a stick, identifying
how they will attack, as four footsoldiers with
scarves round their faces listen. They discuss
breaking into three groups. First, a machine gun is
to engage the Americans. The attackers' mortar will
then start hitting the ammo storage. In the light of
the explosions, the Iraqi resistance fighters hope to
glean the number of vehicles the Americans possess —
and clarify targets for further RPG and mortar
The video then cuts to a silhouetted ridgeline
overlooking the ammo dump. Neither U.S.vehicles nor
attackers can be seen. The voice of someone counting
down can be heard. One, two, three, and moments later
a huge blast rips up from behind the ridge. Then
explosions are heard and the fireworks begin. After
some time someone off-camera makes a short speech in
Arabic. Translated, it says: "The people who made
this operation are from the few honored Iraqi
mujahideen and we ask any honored Iraqis to defend
this country and we can't accept any forces, Arab or
foreigners, whoever it is, whether it is to
reconstruct or occupy it. Depend on Allah,
mujahideen, and do it!"
The next scene shows four unarmed Iraqi footsoldiers
running into view, passing under a line of barb wire,
as explosions rip in the background. They give an
after action report to their commander: "We exploded
it. We are Mohammed's Second Army. Whatever you order
us to do, we'll do it, sir, for the sake of jihad,
our country, our religion and our Islam, in one
strong hand. We will die for the sake of Saddam
Hussein and to bring him back to run this country."
"Good work," the commander responds repeatedly. The
four then claim that they destroyed Humvees and other
targets. U.S. officers, however, say that not only
were no Americans injured in this attack, no U.S.
vehicles were destroyed. The only damage was to one
ammo dump protected by U.S. tanks.
TIME has confirmed that an attack occurred on Sept. 6
on the ammunition storage facility. One soldier
involved in the defense of the area says that the
Americans do not know who did it, or how they did it.
That same night, the airbase where the U.S. forces
are headquartered came under fire, as did another
The video also shows the aftermath of another RPG
attack, on Sept. 11, which destroyed a U.S.
semi-trailer and a large transport truck. It shows 50
people dancing by the flames, chanting "we give our
blood and souls for you Saddam." A Fedayeen member,
his face unshrouded, then shoots the flaming wreck
twice with an AK-47. The Anbar branch also claims
responsibility for this ambush.